Perverse Incentives

A more polite way would be to call them moral hazards, but we don’t pull any punches here, do we?

The issue is again marriage. While alimony and property division are long-standing laws, they were designed for an archaic age when marriages served mostly as financial unions. Younger couples also entered with less individual property so division, which was rare, could be uncomplicated. However, now we have trusts, inheritances, pre-marital savings, international property, and pre-nups complicating things. Women have also attained equal opportunity to educate themselves, find employment, and support themselves, supposedly obviating the need for alimony. Instead, by applying 17th century laws to 21st century reality, we have comical situations where “if you are a woman reading celebrity magazines you might think that if you marry a rich man and divorce you can get more money than during a lifetime of work.”

So we see Britain once again setting the trend with divorce reform (as it has with industry, slavery, imperialism as well as ending all 3). I have a certain fondness for their parliamentary system, which relies more on civil discourse and operates without the rigid constraints of an archaic written constitution. It’s not surprising that bowing to social realities, a conservative government is spearheading efforts to uncomplicate divorce. Please note that continental Europe has generally been ahead of the game with reform, having had to deal with high divorce rates earlier than Britain.